COVID-19 Guidance and Resources for Long-Term Care Homes and Retirement Homes
Note: Long-Term Care and Retirement Homes should contact their Middlesex-London Health Unit investigator with any questions or concerns regarding COVID-19 or other infectious diseases by calling 519-663-5317.
Visitors to Long-Term Care Homes and Retirement Homes: COVID-19 Response Framework
The provincial government has released the COVID-19 Response Framework which categorizes public health regions into five levels: Green/Prevent, Yellow/Protect, Orange/Restrict, Red/Control, and Lockdown. The rules for visitors will vary based on the level of the local public health unit region in which the home is located. Additionally, the local public health unit may provide direction and/or restrictions on visitors to the home.
London and Middlesex County are in a Province-wide Stay-at-Home Order effective April 8, 2021.
Review the following for guidance on visitors:
- Retirement Homes COVID-19 Visiting Policy
- COVID-19: Visiting Long-Term Care Homes
- COVID-19 Directive #3 for Long-Term Care Homes under the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007
Guidance for Long-Term Care and Retirement Homes from the Middlesex-London Health Unit
The Middlesex-London Health Unit strongly recommends the following for all Long-Term Care Homes (LTCHs) and Retirement Homes (RHs) in London and Middlesex County:
- Student placement and activities in LTCHs and RHs must cease for the duration of an outbreak unless there is critical need for staff such that students are necessary for ongoing operation. In this instance, students will then be treated as 'employees' and will not be permitted to train or work at any other health care facility.
- Residents should wear a mask anytime they are outside of their rooms.
Additionally, given the rising incidence of COVID-19 in the community, the Middlesex-London Health Unit has updated its quarantine guidance for household members of individuals with COVID-19-like symptoms. All household contacts of symptomatic individuals are to quarantine while awaiting the test results of the symptomatic individual. For Long-Term Care and Retirement Homes, the follow guidance now applies:
- If a staff member's household member is symptomatic, the staff member should not go to work until the symptomatic person's test results are known.
- If the test results are negative, the staff member may return to work and their normal activities and monitor themselves for the development of symptoms.
- In exceptional circumstances where clinical care would be severely compromised without additional staffing, work-quarantine may be considered. Additional directions on work-quarantine can be found here.
COVID-19 testing for LTCHs and RHs
Long-Term Care Homes
For full details about long-term care home surveillance testing and access to homes, please read the Minister's directive.
Staff, Caregivers, Students Placements and Volunteers
All staff, students and volunteers working in a LTCH, when taking a Rapid Antigen Screening Test, must take it as soon as practically possible once their shift begins. Anyone who has a positive screening result will need to leave the home and seek a PCR test within 24 hours.
Please see the frequency of testing below:
|Frequency of Entering a Long-Term Care Home||Test Frequency|
|Two or more days in a 7-day period||
One PCR test and one antigen test on separate days within a seven-day period
An antigen test at a frequency described in COVID-19 guidance: Considerations for antigen point-of-care testing
|Once in a 7-day period||"Day of" their visit|
|Twice in a 7-day period on consecutive days||If an antigen test is taken on the first day, entry may be permitted on the second, consecutive day without another antigen test|
Support Workers, and General Visitors
All support workers and general visitors must demonstrate they received a negative COVID-19 test result from an antigen test on the day of their visit or provide proof they received a negative test result on an antigen test taken the previous day while visiting.
All retirement homes should have their entire staff participate in ongoing surveillance testing.
- All individuals working in the retirement homes (e.g. front-line workers, management, food-service workers, contracted service providers, basic aids, and guest attendants) should be tested biweekly.
- Staff can be tested at an Assessment Centre.
COVID-19 swab ordering process:
Healthcare Materials Management Services (HMMS) has assumed the distribution and delivery of COVID-19 swabs to all organizations across Ontario.
- Complete this electronic form and submit it online. HMMS will fulfill order requests within 72 hours and will have the COVID-19 swabs delivered to your facility.
- To ensure enough COVID-19 swabs are available for all organizations, please restrict orders to a maximum of 110% of your resident and staffing numbers combined, over a one-week period.
- If you have any questions or concerns regarding this process, contact HMMSCovid19@hmms.on.ca
- All staff and essential visitors must wear surgical/procedure masks at all times for the duration of full shifts or visits in the long-term care and retirement home.
The following videos provide a refresher on the correct procedures for donning and doffing:
The staff of long-term care and retirement homes can subscribe to receive email updates and alerts by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "add to LTC and RH distribution list" and let us know at which facility you're employed. To read previous alerts sent by email, please click the link below.
For general guidance on: Environmental Cleaning, Personal Protective Equipment, and Infection Prevention and Control; Screening, Symptoms, Testing, and Case Management; and Quarantine and Self-Isolation, visit the Guidance and Setting-Specific Resources for Healthcare Providers and Institutions.
Last modified on: April 7, 2021